Flight Blog

 

Please forgive what we’re about to do; we need to administer some tough love.


On this, the first day of the summer travel season, we’ve got advice for everyone who flies from Springfield: arrive at this airport AT LEAST TWO HOURS before your flight’s scheduled departure time. If you get here at the last possible minute, you may get burned.

We know, you don’t want to hear it!

 

 

Small airports, like Springfield's, have their perks. Short wait times are one of them. We’re all used to it. Got an early morning flight? You can sleep late, get to the airport 40 minutes before departure, whiz through security in less than 10 minutes, walk to the gate, board, and BOOM!

So here’s the deal — those days are over. The lines are longer and so are the wait times.

For years we’ve told people to arrive at least 90 minutes before departure. If something goes awry, like a broken piece of security screening equipment, you need that much time. Our advice is mostly ignored. And now we're asking you to get here even earlier — please don’t ignore us.

The first four months of the year were the busiest in airport history. In May, nearly all flights were at least 96% full, or oversold. So far this year passenger numbers are up 9.3%. We expect more than 1-million passengers this year — an all-time record. That’s good news, but with growth comes pain.

We're adjusting for the increase in passengers: airlines have increased staff. The Transportation Security Administration has added staff and adjusted schedules at the security checkpoint. But most passengers? They still show up at the last minute, fully expecting to wait less than ten minutes. They’re shocked when they discover a 20+ minute wait at the checkpoint. But that’s what you get when most people show up at the last minute.

Check out this portion of an email we got last week …

“… I approached the security line, which had literally 60 more people in it than I had ever seen.  Historically, I consider the line "long" if there are 10 people in it. I had not anticipated this many people in line and did not allow >30 minutes extra to stand in the security line - my flight was starting to board … I spent 30 minutes in the security line!!”

She missed her flight.

We sympathize, but we’re going to tell you what we told her: YOU NEED TO GET TO THE AIRPORT TWO HOURS BEFORE YOUR SCHEDULED DEPARTURE.

Everyone here at the airport always strives to make things more efficient, but staffing levels can’t be increased to keep wait times at less than 10 minutes. At many airports 20 to 30 minutes is the norm; 10 minutes is a luxury. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury we’ve grown accustomed to, and now we're outgrowing.

Thank you for reading this and please forgive the lecture.

 


 

If you’re reading this post there’s a good chance we directed you here from social media. We’re asking you to read this because you think the airport is responsible for an airline problem.

Let’s address two questions:  what is the airline responsible for, and what is the airport responsible for?

Start with airlines —

Airlines do the following; this is not a complete list:

  • They sell tickets and provide transportation on airplanes.
  • They determine the cost of ticket.
  • They fly airplanes.
  • They cancel flights.
  • They update the flight schedules displayed on video screens at airports.
  • They staff the ticket counters and gates.
  • They park and push back airplanes at the terminal.
  • They load and unload your luggage.
  • They are responsible for lost or damaged luggage.
  • They de-ice airplanes during winter weather.
  • They maintain and repair airplanes.

The "Airport" owns, operates, and maintains the physical facility on the ground: the terminal, runways, taxiways, and so on.

The airport leases space to the airlines from which they do business. Airport leases do not include airline performance standards. Why? Because airlines won't agree to them. Bottom line: airlines are responsible for how they conduct their business at the airport and in the air.

Why tell you all this? Because a lot of folks think the airport is responsible for airline operations/customer service. In fact, they’re often encouraged to think so.

Here’s an example we received on the airport Facebook page:

CUSTOMER: “Quick question. The plane was here last night 2/9 and everyone knew about the tire issue with the plane. The announced the issue right before our scheduled boarding time. This caused over an hour delay that could have been prevented by having the maintenance crew come in and fix the issue. Why did this not happen?”
 
Customer questions like this raise another question — why was the customer convinced that the airport was responsible? Did they just assume that, or did someone tell them it was the airport’s fault?

Based on experience we know airline employees sometimes tell customers things like this: “the airport maintenance crew didn’t fix the tire.”

At best a statement like this is sloppy use of the language. It uses “airport” as a collective word to refer to everyone who works at the airport, be they airline employee, TSA employee, restaurant employee, or someone who actually is an airport employee.

At worst it’s deliberate deceit meant to deflect blame from the airline – the airline employee knows most customers will assume that it means “the airport” is responsible for airplane maintenance.

A more accurate statement would have sounded something like this: “our maintenance crew didn’t fix the problem.” Or this: “we didn’t get the problem fixed in time.”

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"Ladies and gentleman, the airport de-icing crew is short staffed so we’re going to be delayed."

"Folks, we're waiting for the airport ground crew to park us at the jet bridge."

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From now on, when you hear statements like that, you'll have a better idea of what's going on.

Here's our bottom line ...

Blaming the airport for an airline issue doesn’t do any good, though we do track issues, and, when we see a pattern, bring them to the airline's attention. But ultimately, if you want your concern to make a difference, direct it to the airline that’s responsible. If enough customers do that, it could get the airline’s attention. And please know this: if the issue at hand really is an airport problem, we’ll be the first to say so.

Here's contact information for the airlines that serve Springfield:
 

ALLEGIANT
702.505.8888

Click here for Allegiant customer service information

Allegiant Twitter page

Allegaint Facebook page

 

AMERICAN
800.433.7300

Click here for American customer service information

American Twitter page

American Facebook page

 

DELTA
800.221.1212

Click here for Delta customer service information

Delta Twitter page

Delta Facebook page

 

UNITED
800.864.8331

Click here for United customer service information

United Twitter page

United Facebook page

 

 


Jul 13 2017 "That Carpet is Decidedly Chill" BY sgf-adminTAGS General, Misc.

 

What do you call a selfie of your feet — a footsie?

Never mind …

Feet selfies are a popular social media thing. But when people do it at this airport it usually has more to do with the carpet.

Yes, the terminal carpet has become a social media thing, but it hasn’t always been so …

 

 

Back in 2009, when the terminal opened, one crank disliked the carpet so much he wrote a letter to the editor: the carpet triggers vertigo!!!

The newspaper printed it. Hook. Line. Sinker.

These days haters are few and far between. Oh, they’re still out there occasionally, but the carpet seems to have grown on folk.

Instagram is where the carpet typically shows up. We’ve included a sampling, along with an image from a brochure we printed when the terminal was being built. It explains what the carpet is all about, along with the rest of the building’s architectural details.

Be sure to read the comments that accompany the photos. You’ll note some people mention “PDX carpet.”

Portland International Airport (PDX) is the airport in Portland, Oregon. The carpet there is also a thing. You can check it out here: http://gizmodo.com/how-the-portland-airport-carpet-became-a-hipster-icon...

 

 

 

 

 


Jun 30 2017 Flashback Friday BY sgf-adminTAGS History, Midfield Terminal

 

Rock.

Anyone who’s ever put a shovel in the dirt of North Springfield knows there’s a lot of it — tough rock. Mean rock. 11 years ago today a bulldozer driver found out just how mean …

A squadron of big, tough Caterpillar D11 bulldozers occupied the airport that morning. They moved dirt and rock for construction of the new terminal.

Lots of back and forth between the contractors: “Can we bulldoze that rock or will we have to use dynamite?”

The earth moving contractor put money on the Cats. That’s because some of them had what’s known as an “impact ripper.” It’s basically a bit steel tooth that hangs off the back of the bulldozer. It rips rock out of the ground.

The sun got higher and the Cats were hard at it. One of them pulled up in front of the camera and stopped. The driver pushed a lever and the big ripper sank into the ground.

Then he stomped on the gas. The Cat belched black smoke, groaned, and groaned some more. Stuck — the Cat couldn’t move — the rock would not relent.

The driver stomped some more. Suddenly a loud, high pitched “BOING” filled the air. The Cat lurched forward.

To our amazement that high priced tempered steel tooth had snapped in two — most of it was still in the ground — exactly where the Cat driver had put it.

Within a few days the smell of dynamite filled the air.

Never did hear what happened to the tooth. Did the insurance company want it for inspection? Perhaps the manufacturer wanted to analyze it?

Or maybe it’s still out there — under the north end of the terminal ramp — buried under the dirt and rock.

 


Jun 27 2017 Hank Billings — An Appreciation BY sgf-adminTAGS History

 


2006: Mr. Billings at SGF

 

Springfield newsman Hank Billings died last Friday evening. He was 91 years old.

He chronicled Springfield history for 74 years. Though officially retired in 2001, his last column ran in the Springfield News-Leader early last week.

Why mention his passing here? Because Mr. Billings chronicled most of this airport's history — he told its story, warts and all, in the spare prose of a mid-century American newspaper man. With charm and wit.

Anyone who starts working at this airport should visit the scrapbook collection. Dusty old black pages with yellowed newspaper clippings. Through them, Mr. Billings tells our story.

 

August 28, 1949

Your Airport’s Becoming a Busy, Bustling Place

Mr. and Mrs. Springfield, how much do you know about your four-year-old, $2,000,000 municipal airport?

Springfieldians are fond of driving to the airport for a meal or to watch the airliners land. A couple of Sundays ago, despite the fair competition, cars were parked four-deep during the time airliners arrived.

And Weatherman Williford figured that 1200 school children toured the weather bureau — and the airport — during two months last spring.


A Busy Place ...
Click for a larger view

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November 15, 1953.

Airport’s 8th Year Proves Busiest, Most Profitable

… our municipal airport — let’s face it — is a pocket-sized ‘port compared with mammoth fields like Chicago’s Midway or Boston’s Logan or New York’s Idlewild.

Yet if our airport must be termed small, it also can be called efficient and distinctive.

It’s distinctive because it is in the black, without the backbone of direct tax support.

It’s in the black because it is efficient.

In this year of the Golden Anniversary of Flight, Springfield’s airport celebrated it eighth birthday with its busiest and most profitable year so far.


Airport's 8th Year ...
Click for a larger view

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March 21, 1955

DEATH TOLL AT 12 IN PLANE CRASH – Big Airliner Down Just Short of Port

Death toll in Springfield’s worst air tragedy, and first airline accident, early today rose to 12 and some of the 23 survivors remain in critical condition after last night’s crash landing of an American Airlines Convair.

The only crew survivor, Capt. John J. (Jack) Pripish, the pilot, is reported in a “very serious” condition this morning at Burge Hospital.

Civil Aeronautics Administration and Civil Aeronautics Board investigators, unable to question the critically injured pilot, today began checking the broken remains of the twin-engine Convair “340” in a muddy pasture about two miles north of municipal airport.


Big Airliner Down
Click for a larger view

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Reported during the 1960 presidential campaign —

Windblown Welcome

As it had for Vice President Nixon several weeks ago, the sun came out Monday afternoon for municipal airport arrival of Lady Bird Johnson, gracious wife of vice presidential candidate Lyndon Johnson.

But a raw west wind of more than 30 miles an hour made it seem colder than the sunny 50 degrees.

“It is not a good day for banners,” decided an FAA controller from the warmth of the glassy airport control tower, as he watched enthusiastic greeters struggle with welcome posters and banners.


Windblown Welcome
Click for larger view
 

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Mr. Billings loved aviation. He was a pilot. For awhile he wrote a column, “Hangar Flying.”

In the December 13, 1970 column he reported news of:

  • A new federal funding source for airports.
  • The Ozarks Chapter of the Air Force Association will meet at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday in the conference room of the Harry Cooper Supply Company …
  • The municipal airport manager’s council lunched at School of the Ozarks.
  • The state patrol has a new helicopter.
  • A new repair shop at the Bolivar airport.
  • Runway issues at Rolla National Airport, Vichy.
  • Airport improvements at the airport in Miami, OK.
  • A Joplin Globe editorial about the Joplin Airport.

He covered a beat like nobody’s business.

Mr. Billings' wit is on full display in a circa 1970 column —

Anyone who has had his baggage transplanted by an airline would enjoy a unique film here Friday.

The “candid camera” type black and white film was made by the Massachusetts State Police to emphasize its warning to airlines of lax security at Boston’s Logan Airport.

The film had exposure here to the airport board, City Hall staffers, and airlines and car rental personnel.

Compare that to what a newsroom scribe wrote —

… there will be a candid film on airport security, made at Boston’s Logan Airport … the film will be narrated by a member of the Massachusetts State Police … The movie, which emphasizes the lack of security at large airports, will be repeated at City Hall council chambers …


 

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A favorite clipping is from 1946. That’s when American Airlines began service at the airport. Just one problem — there’s no byline. It reads like Mr. Billings. But is it? He would have been at the paper less than two years. Would a cub reporter have used such detail, such word choice, such depth of understanding — such enthusiasm?

Did he write it, or not?

Take a leap of faith ...

 

February 1, 1946.

‘Springfield’ Flies Blithely Into Town

The Flagship Springfield came out of the sun and the wind and the bright blue sky this noontime, settled gently on the runway of the new municipal airport, taxied at the direction of a slender, blue-clad girl – and gave this city a first exciting view of travel and commerce by air.

"Look at the sun shine on the silver," cried a tow-headed school girl leaning against the ropes which barred the crowd from the concrete landing space.

"Look at the wind," murmured a middle-aged fellow with his overcoat collar turned up high - and maybe it WAS the wind you could see breaking under the propellers and swishing back over the wings.

The crowd had been waiting a long time - a good two hours and some longer - for this moment. They stood in a packed administration building to hear speeches.

WORTH THE WAIT

And then they stood out-of-doors in the cold wind, waiting - because the Flagship Springfield was delayed at Tulsa by cargo-loading, and at Joplin by wind conditions which made landing difficult (something which won't be experienced on Springfield's runways, permitting landing from every direction, in any kind of wind.)

But it was worth the waiting. At 12:23, the big silver ship was visible to the south. A hospital ship was expected also - perhaps this was it? No, the crowd murmured - hospital ships were always dark, and you could see this one in the sun.

The plane circled half-way ‘round the field, to come in from the north. As it landed at 12:26, you could see its big black letters - "American Airlines" - and the gay orange-painted trim against the silver.   

Duska Peterson, American agent, directed the big plane to its first Springfield stop. Through the windows, you could see the passengers just as you see them in a passing train - and they looked out curiously as if they didn't know this was a great day in a great city . . .

… After about 20 minutes on the ground, the big plane took off again — for St. Louis and Chicago.

And the crowd turned back to its parked automobiles — prosaic means of transportation! — agreeing that it was a most exciting day for Springfield.


Flagship Springfield
Click for a larger view

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21st Century — May 17, 2006

60 years after the flight of 'Flagship Springfield' the airport prepared to break ceremonial ground for its third airline terminal.

Who should speak at the event, besides the obvious dignitaries?

Well, Mr. Billings, of course. We asked and he accepted. What he didn’t know was that we had a plaque for him. The inscription read:

Presented to Mr. Hank Billings during the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Midfield Terminal at Springfield-Branson National Airport. Thank you for your interest in the aviation community and for more than half-a-century of journalistic excellence. 


Mr. Billings receives the plaque from
Raeanne Presley, chair of the airport board.
Click for a larger view

 

 

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